CDs – are these getting harder to get hold of?

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  • CDs – are these getting harder to get hold of?
  • I recently went into a couple of HMVs in the City of London and was gobsmacked. Where the F have all the CDs gone? They used to fill the majority of the store, now they are resigned to a back corner with the rest of the store full of DVDs and games.

    Is this a sign of things to come?

    I still want to buy CDs as they give much better sound quality (and yes I can tell the difference) than downloads. I also see them as a much superior product to downloads as you:

    a)Get in on a physical media to do what you like with
    b)Better sound quality
    c)Get all the artwork / booklet etc
    d)Doesn’t come with DRM and the issues that go with protection
    e)Cheaper than downloads (I always want the whole album)

    Anyway, anybody got any words of wisdom about this? Are we doomed to another perfectly good music media being phased out?

    grumm
    Member

    I would bet you quite a bit of money that you couldn’t tell the difference between a 320kbps mp3 and a cd in a blind test. Personally I think there will always be a market for physical product, but it will get smaller and appeal to collectors only.

    Oggles
    Member

    There will always be people who want to use physical media. Audiophiles, those without computers (not that there will be many over the coming years) etc. They carry advantages like you said, but it’s easier and quicker to just click ‘Purchase’ on iTunes when you’ve heard a song, sync it to your iPod and listen. It takes less than 30 seconds. And that’s what the majority of people seem to want.

    Then there are the production costs, shipping costs, both of which bring environmental issues into play.
    I can see the CD being around for a while, just not in the quantities that you are used to. Hell, you can still buy vinyl – but it’s resigned to an even smaller corner of the shop than CDs are. I reckon that’s the way it’s headed.

    andrew
    Member

    Internet shopping for physical product has also had an impact: See here

    grumm
    Member

    Sort of relevant – 7 inch single sales doing well Personally I never really cared much for CDs – vinyl has a certain appeal but CDs don’t for me.

    Premier Icon allyharp
    Subscriber

    I’d say in practice I probably could tell the difference between a 320kps mp3 and a cd, and so could many others.

    I can stick a cd into the ~£1000 hifi system and hear it in all it’s glory but if I want to listen to an mp3 I have to connect the ipod onto the amp via an (admittedly not high-end) interconnect which sounds a bit flat in comparison.

    But if I were to play both the mp3 and cd through the computer, correct I’d be surprised if I could tell the difference.

    Premier Icon DezB
    Subscriber

    Very good point allyharp.

    Mp3s certainly have their place, but I don’t think they replace the physical product… however, buying CDs online has totally replaced buying them from a shop for me.
    I always hated going through rack after rack trying to find something I wanted. type in the name, click search. buy. sorted.

    Without wishing to get into a sound quality debate here….

    CDs represent what went before. Downloads represent where we’re at now. Online purchasing of CDs also represents where we are now.

    Also, the concept of the album as a work in itself (rather than simply a convenient collection of otherwise disconnected sogns) is something that really only got going in the late 60s. But, with so many bands incapable of producing albums that are full of good songs all the way through, we are no longer pandering to that format, and instead are picking and choosing what we like.

    I wonder if we’ll see a return to the golden age of the single – the fantastic record that soundtracks a summer – that everyone buys for that sugartastic hit and then drops in favour of the next shiny thing.

    For me, I like good songs, and I like albums of good songs, but the songs always come first.

    I am also going through the shift as a 30-something who grew up with CDs (and also vinyl – I have an LP12*) and albums to seeing the intrinsic value in downloads alongside CDs and records.

    RRH (lost in music)

    *OK, maybe a teensy bit of sound quality-ism, then….

    Premier Icon DezB
    Subscriber

    the songs always come first

    I agree, in which case, your first statement about “what went before” is a bit out.
    Some stuff is only available on vinyl, so I buy the vinyl.
    Some stuff only available on MP3, so I download.
    etc.
    I also use minidiscs a lot.

    I don’t care about the format as long as I own “the song”

    Premier Icon lunge
    Subscriber

    I buy CD’s for 2 main reason:
    1. the sound is a little better, enough for me to notice
    2. i like the idea of physically having the product in my hand, old fashioned i know, but i just like it.

    I also like thumbing through CD’s in shops and buying something random.

    I think the reason they are being consigned to the back of HMV is that the shops are getting bigger profits from games hence their prominence.

    IIRC if you look at the stats on downloads vs CDs purchased I think CDs are still the major player. Once someone starts selling lossless downloads then that might change.

    jonb
    Member

    Why buy a cd in HMV when I can get it in a day over the internet cheaper?

    Haven’t bought a cd in a shop for years. I will still buy CD’s over MP3’s as you get more, a physical copy of something and you can then rip it for you’re ipod. Also lots of people still play CD’s in the car.

    As for quality, I can’t tell the difference between 128kbps and a CD, especially not if I’m listening to it on in ear headphones on the train with people talking in the background. Maybe on a very good hi fi in a soundproof room but I don’t think that represents how most people listen to their music.

    Premier Icon cinnamon_girl
    Subscriber

    Don’t people enjoy going to their local “record store” and browsing, checking out what musicians are playing on what, asking to listen to/asking staff for recommendations, rummaging through the second-hand section (my personal favourite)?

    I don’t want my music buying to be sanitised which is what seems to have happened with downloads and I would never do that. Music seems to have been consigned to “just another commodity” rather than actually sitting down and listening intently, perhaps noticing some different notes/words, without other distractions.

    But then what do I know? I’m just an old rock chick 😳

    Have you tried the Virgin Megastore in New York ? Uts off Broadway – its full of music CD’s… 😆

    pk-ripper
    Member

    piedi, it wasn’t the one in Leadenhall market was it? Was fine until about 6 months ago, then it went all DVDs and games, and it’s only going to get worse with more demand for blu-ray – they’re stocking the same films more than once, and the same games in each format.

    As has been said, it’s all about margins, and I fear the CD will soon become almost solely an internet shop purchase.

    Go to a gig, I buy mine there. Or ebay very cheaply.

    sc-xc
    Member

    I’m with cinnammon_girl on this. All the decent record shops my me seem to be gone, but there’s a great one in Ambleside. Love browsing and buying something I have never heard – takes me back to the old days where you would buy a record purely because it was on a certain lable.

    CountZero
    Member

    I’m also with cinnamon-girl, especially with that name:0) Part of the problem is down to the main distribution outfits going tits-up just before Christmas, which has made it difficult for a lot of artists to get their stuff into store, Pinnacle handled a lot of Indy artists, and Woolies most of the rest. I couldn’t find any Burial stuff at all in Bath or Bristol, for example. I do get the occasional download, but cd’s still sound better on my SACD/DVD-A player than 320kb AAC’s through the same Yamaha amp, plus I’ve always got a proper back-up that is immune to being lost like digital files can, like the 8000+ I lost from my harddrive last year. :0(

    Premier Icon cinnamon_girl
    Subscriber

    Part of my Saturday ritual was lurking in record stores! In fact I even introduced my kids to this past-time, except they got a bit scared cos of the goths and punks in the local independent one!

    Some of the stuff I used to get imported, got a prompt service and the prices were certainly not astronomical. Feel a bit guilty I haven’t been supporting them recently, been supporting the lbs instead!!

    CountZero – glad you appreciate the name 8)

    solamanda
    Member

    I’ve not bought a CD in a store for years, online is cheaper and easier. I hate shops.

    I would bet you quite a bit of money that you couldn’t tell the difference between a 320kbps mp3 and a cd in a blind test.

    I agree entirely on the sound quality difference and I have done double blind tests between Mini Disc, MP3 (320kbps), Record, Open Real and CD (yes I’m a geek). I have very high quality hifi, why should I skimp on the media?

    However most people won’t notice.

    I live in south cumbria, and there isnt a ‘big chain’ record store for miles around, i think lancaster would be the closest i can think of (about 50 minutes away). All of the ones that used to be around have now closed, which means i dont ever buy from the highstreet stores.

    I only really buy CD’s if its something I cant get from a torrent site or if its cheap on ebay/play/amazon. Only really ever have them on in the car, i listen to most of my music from my pc or mp3 player.

    CountZero
    Member

    As far as torrent is concerned I can never get it to work, also I like to have a physical item available in case I get the chance to have an album or collection of albums signed. If you were an artists, would you want to sign a cheap cd-r with a quickly knocked-off cover on cheap paper? While it may be from legit downloads who can tell? I’ve had quite a few signed over the years, including Portishead and Goldfrapp, and I know for a fact Beth Gibbons would only sign mine ‘cos they were genuine, and the guy who took them along had their old studio next door. She did make a sarky remark about them being on eBay next day, but still signed. Things like that I treasure, whereas a download is just vapourware, gone in an instant if you’re not careful.

    PK, yes it was the Ledenhall Market one (and the one in Moorgate is just as bad).

    For the record (no pun intended) I can tell the difference when playing on my decent kit at home.

    I really miss the proper old independant record stores

    andym
    Member

    Amazon? Why would you waste time in HMV?

    Though there are still some indies around that are worth a visit – eg Sterns on Euston Road

    stumpy01
    Member

    I will buy a CD from a shop if I walk past and see something that I have been meaning to buy for a while, even if it costs a bit more to buy. I recently got Metallica’s new album from Zavvi for £10 or so.

    I only download singles and stuff that aren’t easy to get hold of anymore – I think the last song I downloaded was Cameo – Word Up.
    I don’t like the idea of all my music sitting on a computer and being at risk from the hard drive dying one day. I would much rather pay a couple of quid more for the CD and have the physical thing to keep.

    Places like Play.com make it so cheap to get CDs that sometimes they are no more expensive than a download.

    I know that you can put all your music on an iPod and keep it with you, but this still isn’t as convenient as grabbing a CD from the rack if you want to stick something in the car – and I always find with my Nano, I just scroll through it and can never decide what I want to listen to. With my CDs, I generally go straight over and see what I want straight away.

    Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth
    Subscriber

    We’re back to music as the one-off hit. But, is that such a bad thing? I mean, just because albums became the definitive way to experience a band/musician/singer, does it have to be so any more? Downloads perform this form of buying music admirably, and make all sorts of music much more accessible.

    For me the ideal would be something like this: lossless downloads sold direct by the musicians via their own websites (or collated into an online record shop – whether like itunes or independent), which, when bought give you the right to buy a hard copy of the record at a discount price (hard copies being limited editions, effectively).

    (PS, cinnamon_girl, I only learned recently where your name comes from – just starting (hey, I’m young) to get into his music)

    Premier Icon cinnamon_girl
    Subscriber

    Everyone is getting a short attention span with music. With some stuff you don’t immediately “get it”, you need to persevere, read the lyrics, really really listen to those chords.

    Agree with stumpy – don’t want all my music on my hard drive.

    ourmaninthenorth – there was a thread a month or so ago on here about NY. I was amazed that so many people had heard of him, thought I was the only oldie 😳

    Cinnamon_girl, Hey,hey, My, my. – you’re certainly not the only oldie on here! (only 38 myself though!) Missed the NY thread, only an occasional visitor these days but I have wondered before if your name was a co-incedence or not. Now I know for sure you’ve got class 😉

    Haven’t read all the above but from what I scanned through I think it’s a shame people don@t listen to albums-in whatever format- these days. How could you get the feel of it without the whole thing? There are some albums where I would even go so far as to say have to be listened to in there entirety(sp?) to appreciate them.
    Dark Side of the Moon,The Stone Roses, Psychocandy, The Queen is Dead, Leftism, The Seldom Seen Kid as off the top of the head examples (I could go on) (….and on)

    I remember visiting my Dad’s friend who had this cool hi-fi system in the converted loft. I was into G’n’R, Metallica, Slayer, Sepultura etc. so she told me to make myself comfortable on a sofa, close my eyes and listen. And I heard the best till then and still one of the very best recordings – Deep Purple with an Orchestra. Vinyl LP, soft sound, genius. No CD has ever given me the same sensation as that vinyl disc. MP3’s don’t come near either.
    MP3 format is convnient but doesn’t rock my boat. I’m too old for it.

    I too like to hold the cold physical product in my clammy fingers…

    These days I rip them and load them on to my walkman and listen on shuffle as its just such a handy way to listen. Crap headphones but low volume, lying in my bed (or in the car) its just so convenient.

    Physical shops are stocking less and less. Used to shop at the local independent store but recently discovered the joys of Amazon (that and recently split with the missus who still works there…).

    Was looking for a odd mix of stuff and couldn’t find in the shop but did in amazon (country, country folk blues, electric jazz, pre-punk punk rock, touareg/desert blues oh and another letting go with free cd).

    CountZero
    Member

    As a quick tag onto this thread I see Apple will be selling all non-DRM music at variable prices. A couple of albums I’ve bought in the last year on pre-order also allowed me to have a free download sometime before the physical release, which is much the best way to do it. In the case of Kris Delmhorst the money actually paid for her to record the album by taking time off the road, and she signed a big thank you across it when I saw her last April. :0)

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